The 10 Best Places to Live in Australia (Updated 2023)

Australia continues to be one of the most desirable places to live in the world, largely thanks to its diverse landscape, friendly and welcoming people, and high quality of life. We’ve compiled a list of the 10 best places to live in Australia based on demographic trends, economic opportunity, and livability factors like air quality, work-life balance, and average commute times. Read on to see which Australian city will be your new home!

The 10 Best Places to Live in Australia (Updated 2023)

Did you know Australia has some of the world's most beautiful, diverse, and exciting cities? Most people don’t. Sure, they might have heard of Sydney or Melbourne, but what about Perth or Adelaide? Or Hobart? These cities are often overshadowed by their more famous brethren, but they’re equally incredible and worthy of your time. If you’re considering moving to Australia soon, you must read this guide on the ten best places to live in Australia!

Australia isn’t exactly known for being a cheap place to live. Plus, it’s deceptively large! Knowing a place to live that suits you AND your budget is crucial.

To help you, we at Nomads Nation have compiled a list of the best places to live in Australia – so you don’t have to. Now all you’ve got to do is scroll down and see what takes your fancy.

How to travel successfully to Australia

Australia is one of the most beautiful countries on Earth. It's also home to some of the best travel destinations around. Whether you're looking for a classic Australian experience, want to explore diverse landscapes, or experience everything from culture and art, there is an unforgettable destination waiting for you. The 10 Best Places to Live in Australia (Updated 2022) » Nomads Nation

How to Apply for Visa to Australia

Preparing your Australian visa application requires a significant amount of paperwork. Not all of these documents will be supplied by the visa agency, so start preparing as soon as possible. One of the first steps you must take is compiling evidence of your eligibility to work in Australia. You need this even if you are only applying for a tourist or business visa, so don't let it go out of sight once you have collected it. The second step is filling out an Australian Working Holiday Visa Application form; you'll want to ask for one from the country where you reside. If that country doesn't provide them, contact an embassy or consulate in your area. Once that form has been filled out, make sure there are no mistakes and all necessary documents have been attached before mailing it off with a copy of the passport and confirmation receipt; make sure that it's mailed in certified mail with the return receipt requested, so they know who sent it.

Staying Safe in Australia

Australia is known for its friendly people, warm weather – and safety. Generally, you’ll be pretty okay being (and feeling) safe in Australia.

What will probably worry you more than the people is the nature of this vast country. Not only are there creepy crawlies like snakes, spiders, and even crocodiles, but natural disasters can – and do – happen.

Bushfires can wreak havoc across the land, and cyclones can be devastating. Knowing what to do in an emergency like this is a smart move.

Mostly, however, you’re going to be acceptable in Australia – it’s pretty safe!

1 Byron Bay

“From its beaches to its whale watching and organic food, Byron Bay is a popular spot for beach bums, backpackers, and nomads alike!“

The monthly cost of living in Byron Bay

cost of rent in Byron Bay

Byron Bay draws visitors not just for its rugged coastline, with scrubby cliffs and calm beaches, but also for a relaxed atmosphere that keeps people coming back. 

There’s a hippie-by-the-sea vibe here, in a town named after the grandfather of famous poet Lord Byron (previously called Cavvanbah, which means “Meeting Place”).

It’s a relatively small place to live – the town where getting around on a bicycle is the norm. 

But you could choose to base yourself in Sunrise, a cheaper part of town that’s still pretty close to the beach and just a 10-minute cycle away from the center. Lily Pilly Byron is also a nice place to live, all tiny houses with cute gardens.

Pros of Byron Bay

  •     Real relaxed atmosphere
  •     Healthy lifestyle
  •     Dramatic natural landscape

Cons of Byron Bay

  1.     Mega expensive
  2.     The hippie vibe might not be everyone's scene
  3.     Quite a small town

Byron Bay, the easternmost point of Australia, is also super famous for its whale watching opportunities. When the whales pass by from May to November, you can get a boat to see them or spot them from the headland.

Like in much of the country, Surf culture is big news in Byron Bay. But when you’re not hitting the beach (or the surf), you can fill your stomach at one of the many vegan or vegetarian restaurants, chow down at street food stalls, or have a drink or two at the town’s selection of bars. Before you move to Byron Bay, it might be a good idea to visit first and get a feel for the place. Here is a great 3-day itinerary showing you the best of this Aussie legend.

2 Melbourne

-Melbourne is the capital and most populous city of the Australian state of Victoria. It was founded on 30 August 1835 by free settlers from the British Crown colony of Van Diemen's Land.

-Victoria is famous for its wide variety of neighborhoods, each with its specific style. The restaurants are renowned worldwide, as well as Melbourne’s many café that serves top-notch coffee, tea, and food. With a population of 4.6 million people, it has an average salary higher than Sydney’s but still lower than Canberra’s, making it an excellent place to live if you want work-life balance while still having a big enough job market to find employment. Nomads Nation has ranked Melbourne at #10 out of 10 because there are few issues when compared to other cities in Australia, such as Canberra or Sydney. Melbourne offers a lot of benefits, but it also requires compromise.

3 Sydney

“For nomads who want their slice of big city living, Sydney and its sights are a perfect choice.“

The monthly cost of living in Sydney

cost of rent in Sydney

Sydney may not be the capital of Australia, but it is the largest city – this is where it all goes down. Just think: you could spend evenings hanging at Sydney Opera House, days surfing at Bondi Beach, and yet more of your time hitting up the Asian food on offer in the city’s Chinatown.

Though the very center of Sydney can be pricey, we recommend the neighborhood of Manly; it’s a simple ferry ride to town with all the other commuters. 

Surry Hills is a fantastic neighborhood with Victorian houses and a burgeoning hipster vibe, with tons of cafes in this once working-class, now gentrified part of town.

Pros of Sydney

  1.     There's so much to do here
  2.     City living
  3.     Great food scene

Cons of Sydney

  •     Too much city for some
  •     Can get super expensive
  •     Awful traffic

Sydney may have those glossy icons like the Opera House and plenty of shiny skyscrapers, but if you look a little bit closer, you’ll find evidence of the city’s past. 

There are plenty of historic buildings to explore in the area called The Rocks: the oldest part of the city. That said, Sydney’s Central Business District is the place to go if you want bars and restaurants galore; we would also recommend hitting the night market in Chinatown for a foodie buzz after dark. 

Darlinghurst is a diverse area known as the Jewish quarter of the city and is now a liberal LGBTQ-friendly neighborhood.

Tips

Tons of coworking spaces mean a lot of choice in Sydney. Some of the best are Fishburners (huge, relaxed, social), Coworking Space Sydney (modern, central), and Tank Stream Labs (easygoing, community-feels).

4 Brisbane

Brisbane, Queensland, is the third most populated city in Australia. Although it’s famous for its annual wildflower display, Brisbane is a cosmopolitan city with an exciting and welcoming nightlife scene and some of the best surf beaches on the east coast. Known as River City, Brisbane has a mix of heritage buildings along its banks with modern high-rise apartments and commercial precincts surrounding them. The University of Queensland has two campuses in Brisbane, and students make up one-fifth of the population. The average age for residents is 33 years old, making this one of Australia's youngest cities. Along with being home to two World Heritage-listed sites, there are over 2,000 restaurants here.

These include traditional Australian cuisine and cuisines from around the world like Thai, Vietnamese, Indian and Chinese. There are also many arts festivals, like the Brisbane International Film Festival, which celebrates film culture while sharing stories from cultures worldwide.

5 Hobart 

“The gateway to the natural splendors of Tasmania, the city of Hobart is a good place for a getaway.“

The monthly cost of living in Hobart

cost of rent in Hobart

Hobart is the capital of Tasmania, the island state of Australia, and sits on a backdrop of Mount Wellington (1,270m), which can be hiked thanks to numerous trails of Wellington Park. 

The town has many picturesque old buildings, making it a charming place to wander on your days off, including 1830s Salamanca Place.

When looking for an area to live in Hobart, we’d recommend starting your search at North Hobart. 

Close to the CBD (easy to reach on public transport), this relaxed, friendly suburb has parks and a good feel; it was once a little rough around the edges, but no longer. Battery Point is also a good option if a little is more pricey.

Pros of Hobart

  •     Relatively chilled city
  •     Picturesque place to live
  •     Plenty of nature on the doorstep

Cons of Hobart

  •     Bit isolated
  •     Can suffer from extreme weather
  •     Not that lively

The colonial-style buildings at Battery Point now house many shops and cafes, making it a cool hangout for nomads who like to sip coffee. 

The Museum of Old and New Art (or MONA) is also an excellent place to explore, especially if you’re into art, described by its founder as a “subversive adult Disneyland.”

Port Arthur is another good sight in town; this historic place features British Empire buildings – over 30 of them. For beer fans (and more history), check out the oldest brewery in Australia, the Cascade Brewery, founded in 1832.

Tips

Parliament Coworking is the place to get some work done here. It’s set in a renovated old building, which we think is cool. There’s also WOTSO WorkSpace, an excellent place for nomads with a good atmosphere and friendly staff.

6 Perth

Perth is a city that deserves its mention. The capital of Western Australia, Perth sits right on the Indian Ocean and boasts one of the most isolated major cities on Earth - but what it lacks in size, it makes up for a vibrant, relaxed lifestyle. The low cost of living, excellent weather, and proximity to some of the world's most scenic beaches make it one of the best places to live.

Pros of Perth

  • Easy access to beaches
  • So much nature to explore
  • Generally open and chilled atmosphere

Cons of Perth

  • Can get a little boring
  • It is one of the most isolated cities ever
  • a bit expensive

In the city itself, you can hit up Kings Park; the bold claim to fame here is that it’s said to be one of (if not the) largest inner city parks in the world. 

Here you’ll see people jogging, families enjoying time together, and some great views of Perth from the other vantage point.

Perth’s beaches are also part of the lure of the city. Head to Bather’s Beach (named for obvious reasons) and City and Cottesloe Beach to laze around and gaze out on the miles and miles of the Indian Ocean; apart from offshore Rottnest Island, there’s nothing out there till Madagascar!

Tips

Spacecubed is a coworking space that puts on many vents; there’s ample space for you to work here. Also, you should check out FLUX, a very cool, modern room with a convenient location and a top place for productive days!

7 Wollongong

“A cradle of coastal living on Australia’s Grand Pacific Drive, Wollongong is one for the sea-loving nomads.“

The monthly cost of living in Wollongong

cost of rent in Wollongong

Situated 90 minutes south of Sydney (by car, at least), Wollongong is all about living by the sea – it’s as simple as that. 

Here you will find beaches, rockpools, cliff walks, and plenty of other natural distractions that tend to lean towards the ocean; so if you like surfing or just staring at the sea, this is the place for you.

The inner suburb of Mount Pleasant is a, well, pleasant place to base yourself. You’ll find plenty of malls and cafes – all within a short distance of the CBD. 

In the north, Woonona is another good option to live in Wollongong; it’s also right near the beach, with plenty of eateries to sample.

Pros of Wollongong

  1.     Huge amount of great food
     
  2.   Fun nightlife
       
  3. Tons of museums

Cons of Wollongong

  • More expensive than the rest of Australia
  • High pollution levels
  • Some areas have high crime rates

The center of the very relaxed Wollongong is very walkable. It’s not that big, so you will be able to explore this city on foot, hitting up its new, cool and quirky cafe, bar, and restaurant scene. Eighty new establishments have sprung up since 2012.

In the heart of town, Wollongong City Gallery is where you get your fill of Australian and Aboriginal art. 

Each year the city puts on the Wonderwalls Festival, where you can discover huge pieces of art daubed on the city walls – pretty cool!

Tips

SmartSpace offers a good range of facilities and services – it’s even pretty good if you work in a team. Otherwise, you can hit up ZigZag Hub, a coworking space where you can get stuff done without distractions; modern and well run.

8 Adelaide city in Australia

Known as the wine capital of Australia, Adelaide is not just a tourist destination. It is an excellent place for those looking to start a new life and grow their family. The cost of living here is much lower than in many other areas on this list, meaning you don't have to spend as much time working hard for little money. The nature outside the city also has plenty to offer, with stunning national parks that make visiting other parts of the country all worth it! For those who want some culture, there are also lots of galleries and museums in the town center. There are also many delicious cuisines to enjoy while exploring this small city!

This neighborhood is a bit of a student hub with plenty of hipster hang-outs; great for cheap eats and drinks, vintage shops, and all pretty close to the city center. For somewhere near the beach, head to Brighton or Glenelg in the west of Adelaide.

Pros of Adelaide

  1.     No rat race feel to the city
  2.     Friendly people
  3.     Interesting place

Cons of Adelaide

  •     Might not be lively enough for you
  •     Not as convenient as other cities
  •     Conservative

Start your adventures in the city at the 150-year-old South Australia Museum, complete with the country’s most extensive collection of indigenous artifacts; or the Art Gallery of South Australia, the manicured grounds of the University of Adelaide, or wander around Victoria Square: the focal point for the city in the 1850s.

Of course, you should catch a match at the Adelaide Oval – a cricket match. These are rowdy and exciting. After that, fill your stomach at Adelaide Central Market (dating back to 1869) or enjoy the delicious delights of the city’s historic – and still functioning – Chinatown.

Tips

Hub Adelaide is a new, clean, and well-organized workspace in a great location in the city. You may also want to check out WOTSO (part of a national franchise), located in an old church: fast wi-fi and a rooftop deck. Love it.

9 Gold Coast 

“A twenty-minute train ride from Helsinki, but much less expensive, Vantaa is a well-located option for budget-minded nomads.“

The monthly cost of living on the Gold Coast

cost of rent in Gold Coast

South of Brisbane lies the city of Gold Coast. Since the Surfers Paradise Hotel opened up in the 1920s, this whole region has boomed as a beach resort popular with surfers. 

But the vast beach itself is pretty impressive, stretching for miles and miles, making it perfect for anyone who likes the feel of sand between their toes.

Gold Coast can be a little expensive, but living in Southport is much more affordable. 

It’s still close to the beach and the town itself, but it’s much more laid back and quiet than other areas (many international students live here too). Mermaid Beach is another good option; perfect for the outdoors-lover.

Pros of Gold Coast

  1.     Amazing beaches
  2.     Tons of stuff to do
  3.     Outdoor activities are plenty

Cons of Gold Coast

  •     Pretty expensive
  •     Busy with tourists
  •     Maybe too much partying for some

Being a popular destination for tourists and locals, many things are geared toward visitors on the Gold Coast, such as amusement parks like Warner Bros. 

Movie World and Dreamworld, to name just a couple. For something more natural, head to Springbrook National Park for a slice of temperate rainforest.

For fans of food, after a busy day of surfing, navigate your way through the notable high-rise skyline of the city to Miami Marketta. 

Here you will find a complete selection of street eats to the soundtrack of live music – all washed down with freshly made cocktails, of course.

Tips

Need to get some work done? Lot 37 is an ideal coworking space located near Surfers Paradise. There’s also Burleigh Space: close to the beach (with views of it, too), serving great coffee quiet area to work.

10 Canberra

Being named the second most liveable city by The Economist's Global Livability Index is a decent seal of approval. Canberra is also one of the safest and cleanest cities in Australia and has a rather green reputation. There are plenty of good schools around that can give your children access to an outstanding education and plenty of affordable housing on offer, with more than 80% of homes being affordable for those living on average wages. Plus, it has two significant universities, so you'll be able to find work if you need it!

Final word

Nomads Nation has come out with a list of the ten best places to live in Australia (updated 2022). Sydney is ranked number 1 on the list. The weather is subtropical, which means that you'll get great weather all year round, and Sydney's population density is ten times less than that of Beijing, which means it's much easier to live there! Check out the rest of their rankings below.